KEEPING SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY ALIVE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Sweet Iced Tea

Difficulty Level is 1 (on a Scale of 1 to 5)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 teabags
  • 1/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ice cubes to fill a half gallon pitcher
  • 4 cups (1 quart) water

PREPARATION:

STOVETOP: Heat water in a saucepan until absolutely boiling. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and cover. Let the tea steep* for 5 minutes. Remove cover and discard tea bags. Add desired amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. Fill a half gallon pitcher with ice cubes. Place a metal spoon** in the pitcher, then pour tea over the ice. Remove the spoon and stir. Serve with a lemon wedge and a sprig of fresh mint.

MICROWAVE: Put 6 teabags in a Pyrex measuring cup filled with 4 cups water. Microwave on HIGH until boiling, about 6 minutes. Cover with a saucer or plate and steep* for 5 minutes. Remove cover and discard teabags. Add desired amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. Fill a half gallon pitcher with ice cubes. Place a metal spoon** in the pitcher, then pour tea over the ice. Remove the spoon and stir. Serve with a lemon wedge and a sprig of fresh mint.

Makes about 1/2 gallon.

*Steep means to cover the container of hot liquid to allow the steam to extract the full flavor from the tea bags or loose tea leaves. If you steep too long, the tea may become bitter.

**Placing a metal spoon in the glass pitcher prevents it from breaking when adding the hot liquid.

SWEET OR UNSWEET?

If you order iced tea in a southern restaurant, you'll never be offered granulated sugar to sweeten it. In these parts we all know that you only sweeten the tea when it's hot! So restaurants always have both unsweet and sweet tea on their menus. But there was a time when iced tea was always served sweet, and every household had a fresh pitcher on hand for thirsty guests. While living in Meadowview, Virginia, a friend and neighbor showed me how to make Tea Syrup: a super sweet concentrate that lasts for days. Eula's recipe keeps well so you'll always have some on hand to serve unexpected visitors who might drop by on a hot, summer day.

TEA SYRUP

Boil 2 quarts of water. Add 1 cup of loose tea. Steep 5 minutes and strain. Add 4 cups (yes, that's right) of sugar and stir to dissolve. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to use.
For Tea: Combine 1 cup of tea syrup with 1 quart of water. Serve over crushed ice with a lemon wedge and a sprig of fresh mint.